St. Bernard of Clairvaux was born to nobles in Burgundy, France in 1090. Fearing he would succumb to temptation following the death of his mother, Bernard joined the newly begun, and austere, Cistercian Order. Four of his brothers along with others were persuaded by him to join the order, too.

Bernard became Abbot at the famed Abbey of Clairvaux and one of the great figures in the 12th Century. He started many monasteries and wrote several works. He rallied popular support for Pope Eugene III’s Second Crusade. While his reputation was challenged by the crusade’s failure, he recovered influence by pointing out the crusaders’ sins.

Bernard was adviser to the leading monarchs of his time. Pope Pius VIII named Bernard a Doctor of the Church. He is pictured many times with a staff and model of Clairvaux’s monastery. He died on Aug. 20, 1153, and his feast day is set on that day, Aug. 20